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Police in Brighton want to talk to anyone who saw a woman run into the sea in the early hours of Saturday morning
The woman, 36 and believed to be from Brighton, left the seafront Digital nightclub at about 2.30am and was walking along the beach between West Pier and Palace Pier with a man she knew when she ran into the water. She was almost immediately swept away by a large wave, a police spokesman said.
People tried to reach the woman but rough seas with three-metre waves made it impossible. Coastguard rescue officers, lifeboat crews, police and a helicopter spent the night looking for her but the search operation was called off after more than six hours.
A police spokesman said he did not know why the woman ran into the water and that the incident was not being treated as suspicious. Her next of kin have been contacted by family liaison officers.
Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp said: "Police and the coastguard searched for several hours in very difficult and dangerous weather but have been unable to locate the woman. We will continue to be vigilant for any sightings along the beach.
"The sea was very rough indeed overnight and we always urge people to be very careful and stay away from the water's edge anywhere along the coast when the weather is so bad.''
Solent Coastguard said: ``We conducted a thorough search of the area and nothing was found. The conditions down there are appalling. It's force eight with severe gale warnings.''